B'caster to own 16 CBS affils

Virginia-based broadcaster Media General plans to acquire mid-market station group Spartan Communications for $605 million, making it one of the nation’s largest owners of CBS affiliates.

Media General announced the acquisition, expected to clear by mid-2000, Wednesday. Spartan owns and operates 12 stations, comprised of 10 CBS affils and two ABC affils in markets ranging from No. 35 to No. 157. Spartan also manages a UPN affiliate under an local management agreement (LMA).

Spartan’s group is led by WSPA-TV, the CBS affil in Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, S.C./Asheville, N.C.

Media General also said its board of directors would repurchase up to $250 million of its common stock, and that the company would continue to repurchase its stock from time to time.

Media General already owns 13 stations in the southeast: six CBS, one ABC, one WB and five NBC outlets. The merger, subject to FCC approval, will give Media General 16 CBS affils, which the company said was second only to CBS’ roster of owned stations.

Media General stock dropped 2¼ points on the AMEX Wednesday, closing at 48 (down from 50¼).

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